The Southern Nevada Golf Association has a pair of new leaders and a promising schedule that is expected to draw hundreds of competitors through the rest of the year.
Eric Yaillen, 49, is now executive director of the SNGA while Ann Sunstrum has been named director of sales and marketing for the association that was formed in 1967.
Also named to the SNGA were Stephanie Drake, the P.J. Boatwright intern; along with PGA professional Dan Romstead, who is the manager of tournament operations.
Yaillen relocated to Las Vegas from Woodburn, Ore., halfway between Salem and Portland, where he served as marketing and communications director for the Oregon Golf Association.
“Being part of the West Coast golf community, I have been familiar with the members and the SNGA,” said Yaillen, a 1984 graduate of Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, where he earned a bachelors degree in journalism with majors in advertising and public relations. “This is a vibrant community considering the magnitude of golf courses in Southern Nevada. We have some beautiful courses that attract golfers from all over the world.”
Yaillen said Las Vegas’s large volume of visitors includes countless conventions throughout the year.
“There are not a lot of places that have 140,000 quality hotel rooms like Las Vegas,” Yaillen added. “About two percent of those who travel to Las Vegas for conventions also want to play golf – and that’s a huge number.”
“Golf is the sport of business and we’re here to connect the dots.”
Yaillen said the SNGA has a pair of goals now.
“We are going to form a strategic business plan and figure out ways to be more relevant to local golfers,” Yaillen said. “We want to be the conduit for destination marketing and build relationships especially with surrounding golf associations in the southwest. “
Sunstrum is a native Nevadan who graduated from Valley High School and also earned a degree in journalism from
the University of Southern California in 1984.
She created Golf Mesquite Nevada in 2000 before spearheading the Mesquite Amateur golf tournament, an annual event north of Las Vegas that has drawn about 600 entries each year since 2003.
“What we did in Mesquite is something that I really want to accomplish for the rest of Southern Nevada,” said Sunstrum, whose husband, John, is a local professional golfer. “For the most part, golf can be played year-round in Southern Nevada, so the area is a dynamic destination for golfers of all ages.”
Romstead came to Las Vegas after serving as an assistant pro at the Kapalua Resort in Maui, Hawaii for several years. He was the head pro at Reflection Bay at Lake Las Vegas before moving to SouthShore, also at Lake Las Vegas.
Drake, originally from Little Rock, Ark., has a strong background in recreation and has worked at military golf courses in Arkansas and Japan. The PGA Boatwright Program is funded by a grant from the USGA and was established in honor of P.J. Boatwright, a long-time executive director of the USGA, long considered the pre-eminent authority on the rules of golf.
“Stephanie has been invaluable to the SNGA,” said Yaillen. “She handles the nuts and bolts of the operation and we would like to keep her here permanently.”
The SNGA is the governing body for the sport in Southern Nevada. It is licensed by the United States Golf Association to be its regional representative responsible for overseeing the USGA Handicap System; the USGA Course Rating System; and conducting regional qualifiers for US National Championship.
In addition, the SNGA is a trusted source for rules of the game of golf.
Further information may be found by visiting www.snga.org; or by calling 702-458-4653 (GOLF).
Geno Withelder serves as the Mesquite representative for the SNGA and is a member of the Executive Committee for the organization. If any current member has any questions regarding membership, handicaps, or any other matter regarding SNGA membership contact him at 702-379-1931.